Saturday, December 17, 2005

Ghost Whisperer - Dec. 17, 2005


Making spirits bright

Jennifer Love Hewitt certainly encounters her share of dead people on Ghost Whisperer. Maybe they just want a close look at what she’s (not) wearing.

By Eric Kohanik

After watching a few episodes of Ghost Whisperer, I’ve come to notice a few fundamental things about it, and about all spooky TV shows.

For starters, spooky shows really seem best suited to Friday nights. Maybe it’s the whole Friday-the-13th thing. Or maybe, deep down,we all just need a good scare to start off the weekend.

During the 1990s, The X-Files used Friday nights as a launching pad for the first three seasons of its successful TV run. Decades before that, Rod Serling found Friday nights provided a perfect setting for the thrills and chills of The Twilight Zone.

There have been many other shows, too – everything from Millennium to Joan of Arcadia – that thrived on turning Friday nights into fright nights.

Medium has become an exception to that rule, of course. Patricia Arquette and her co-stars have found a sizable audience on Monday nights. I can’t explain that one. Mondays are scary enough without dead people haunting you.

The main character on Ghost Whisperer sees dead people, too. Jennifer Love Hewitt plays a young newlywed named Melinda Gordon. Ever since she was a kid, Melinda has been blessed or cursed, depending on your point of view, by visits from “Earth-bound spirits” – souls with unfinished business needing to be wrapped up before they can cross over into the great beyond.

That’s another thing about spooky shows. Spirits always have unfinished business that takes precedence over everyone else’s stuff. Just once, you’d think one of them would be considerate enough to make sure Melinda got her business finished first.

Anyway, Melinda always ties up the loose ends that are plaguing these spirits. And it often involves heart-tugging elements that require a bit of cheesy writing.

Spooky TV shows always have something cheesy about them.

Spooky shows also need a character who is skeptical of what’s going on. In Ghost Whisperer, that’s Melinda’s friend and business partner, Andrea (Aisha Tyler).

It helps, too, if there is an understanding spouse who also tends to go out into dark,stormy nights a lot. In Melinda’s case, that’s her husband, Jim (David Conrad).

While we’re on the subject of dark, stormy nights, that’s another thing about spooky shows. A lot of the really creepy stuff happens at night. In the case of Ghost Whisperer, that gives producers plenty of opportunities to put Hewitt into slinky, cleavage-popping nighties.

In spooky shows, it’s always the young, beautiful women with the least amount of clothing on that somehow attract ghosts, serial killers, aliens and all those things that go bump in the night. They never seem to seek out anyone in frumpy flannel pyjamas.

Then again, that would just be too spooky.